Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 8: Keep Some Things to Yourself!by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 11/10/2006
When Candice and Jonathan stepped onto the mat, they spoke volumes about something they should have kept to themselves. If you wish to increase your power in the game through defection, that power is magnified when it can have the greatest impact on the game. Further, a defector must know a penalty always applies, that he becomes harder to trust for others which could result in a fatal eviction. Thus, it is not something to be done lightly, preferably either to avoid the end of game life or to advance seriously chances of going far.
Whether Candace or Jonathan realized this, they surely chose the wrong moment. Especially with Candace, her game life was unthreatened and she had a spot in an alliance that could take her far, ensuring that the later the defection came, the more likely it would be for a huge reason and where the penalty would hurt the least, being close to the end and impacting fewer people. The only possible reason it would have made sense would be if she had a sense her double-secret ally Adam on the other side was in a spot of bother and needed a vote, but that seems unlikely and, even if she thought that, false.
Instead, all she did was signal to almost everybody that she perhaps should not be trusted. Instead of timing the defection to a point that it could take out a major rival or to save herself, she wasted the element of surprise and only drew suspicion to herself. Indeed, it should have set off alarm bells on some in her new tribe who now see her cozying up to Adam and Parvati, signaling to them that none of them should be trusted since to them there seemed to be implicit understanding that the entire group (as much as possible) would stick together after a merge. A subgroup welcoming an outsider should worry others and gives them every incentive to band together to deal with the subgroup.
This is why Bradís departure, for Rebecca and Jenny, was a mistake. However, it may have been unavoidable. The troika of Candace, Parvati, and Adam seems to have picked up Nathan as a hanger-on for now, and certainly Jonathan wasnít going to cooperate if he could not move into a majority situation (as well as he harbors delusions of being connected closely to Candace). Itís why they must hope for a merge soon, if they have the wit to understand they now are on the chopping block.
But potentially this could turn out to be a bigger mistake for the new troika. There is good logic in keeping Jonathan around since his defection, even less intelligent than Candaceís because his staying would have created a solid five, shored up trust issues with the remaining Aitu members, and especially because he had additional information by which to decide Ė Candaceís defection a second previous Ė makes him a pariah to all. However, sending off Brad signals clearly that the ďoldĒ group will be sacrificed on behalf of the newcomers. This should rouse Rebecca and Jenny, but, especially, Nathan who cannot allow himself to think he ever will be more than a fourth wheel on the tricycle.
If Nathan is on the ball, he will know he has some time and should guess that the Aitu bunch is looking for a fifth. He should argue for Jenny and Rebecca, in any order, to go next if needed and be ready to defect at the merge. His biggest mistake would be to stick with the troika until the end. If Bradís departure has gotten him thinking along these lines, then the troika committed a blunder by sending off Brad. Dispatching Jonathan, by contrast, would have sent the message that the group was staying together and would buy time for the troika to keep suspicions about it tempered.
In another way the defection likely will turn out as suboptimal for those who jumped ship Ė the alliance it left behind probably became stronger. Yul and Ozzy are turning out to be two of the most impressive players ever produced in the game and now, by necessity, they have been thrown together where previously at least one of them, Ozzy, could have been neutralized. That is, as long as the group lasts, but even if a merge is not imminent that could be awhile. In challenge after challenge they have been shown to be qualitatively superior mentally and physically to all other players (but, at least not as of yet, strategically as well), so even that current group of four has a good chance of continuing to win.
Although Ozzy showed some terrific instincts by staying put. If any one person had incentive to defect, he did, being clearly the next to go if Aitu lost another immunity challenge. Either he sensed what would happen in those ten seconds, or he had supreme confidence that they would not lose another challenge before the merge. As a result, his stock absolutely soared in the game Ė as did Yulís, because if Aitu were to lose again before a merge, because they are down so much on numbers, all four would be loathe to get rid of two powerhouses like Yul and Ozzy, so one female would defect to them to boot off the other. The guys almost are certain to make the merge and be part of a powerful alliance, either with what they have now and/or, if forced to, by picking up stragglers from the ex-Raro gang.
This illuminates the final folly of the defections that any advantage the defectors might have felt by jumping to make Raro numerically superior may evaporate instantly with a quick merge. What if itís next: Rebecca and Jenny could join the ex-Aitu bunch and Candace could find herself gone, having traded a position of high security with a secret partner for one that puts her on a hit list for immediate execution.
In the end, itís hard to argue Candace made herself better off, and itís ridiculously easy to show Jonathan considerably damaged his own position, by the defection. Itís a bad decision that can be only partially redeemed if a merge is still many days away and if Raro can win immunity challenges in the interim. Otherwise, Candace threw away her (and Adamís) secret weapon of their partnership and the element of surprise for maximum effect, and Jonathan just about took himself out of the game just as surely as a pelican could drive Osten out.
If you havenít already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 8 columns already posted:
Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport where he teaches, among other things, classes in international politics, international organizations, and diplomatic history. He has published in the area of gaming simulations in international politics.
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